Origin product: Bali
Burning sage — also known as smudging — is an ancient spiritual ritual.
Smudging has been well established as a Native American cultural or tribal practice, although it isn’t practiced by all groups.
Many other cultures around the world share similar rituals.
Here are some of the benefits of burning sage / smudging
1. It may be purifying
The most-used types of sage have antimicrobial properties. This means they keep infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi at bay.
White prairie sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is both antimicrobial and antibacterial. White sage (Salvia apiana) is also antimicrobial. And both have been shown to repel insects.
Beliefs that burning sage clears out spiritual impurities, pathogens, and even insects have been fundamental to the practice of smudging.
2. It may help relieve the symptoms of some conditions
It turns out that sage may help clear the air of lots more than bugs and bacteria.
Though scientifically unproven, burning sage is thought to release negative ions. This is said to help neutralize positive ions.
Common positive ions are allergens like:
• pet dander
If this is the case, burning sage may be a blessing for those with asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions. But inhaling the smoke during the smudging can aggravate any respiratory condition. Wait until the smoke clears before going into the room.
3. It may help soothe stress and improve the quality of your sleep
If burning sage can lift one’s mood, it could also be a great ally against stress.
A 2016 research project for the University of Mississippi established that white sage (Salvia apiana) is rich in compounds that activate certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain. Some research suggests that sage contains compounds that could help ease insomnia.
Sage is a lovely incense with a divine aroma, pure and simple. It also works great as a chemical-free air freshener or odor controller.
What you need to practice burning sage or smudging :
Basic tools include:
• a sage bundle (or smudge stick)
• a bowl of ceramic, clay, or glass to hold burning sage or capture ash
• some recommend matches over a manufactured lighter
• optional feather or fan for fanning smoke
How to prepare for a smudge:
Before burning sage, some recommend setting intentions if smudging for spiritual, energetic, and negativity clearing purposes. Remove animals or people from the room.
It’s also important to leave a window open before, during, and after smudging. This allows smoke to escape.
Some believe smoke also takes impurities and negative energy with it — so don’t skip this step.
How to smudge your living space, an object, and more:
These steps apply whether you’re smudging yourself, your home, or an object. You can smudge any of these as often as you’d like.
1. Light the end of a sage bundle with a match. Blow out quickly if it catches on fire.
2. The tips of the leaves should smolder slowly, releasing thick smoke. Direct this smoke around your body and space with one hand while holding the bundle in the other.
3. Allow the incense to linger on the areas of your body or surroundings you’d like to focus on. Using a fan or feather can also help direct the smoke, though this is optional.
4. Allow the ash to collect in a ceramic bowl or shell.
What to do after a smudge:
Make sure your smudge stick is completely extinguished. You can do this by dabbing the lit end into a small bowl of ash or sand.
Check the end closely to make sure there are no more embers burning. Once it’s completely put out, store it in a safe, dry place out of the sun.
Are there any side effects or risks?
When done correctly and respectfully, smudging is completely safe and the effects last after the smoke clears.
Be careful with sage when it’s lit. If you aren’t careful, burns and even fire is possible. Have water nearby.
Never leave burning sage unattended. Make sure to put your sage bundle out completely after every use.
Setting off smoke alarms is common. Consider this if smudging in a public building.
People with asthma and other respiratory conditions may be more sensitive to the smoke and have adverse reactions.
Always leave a window open while smudging. Inhaling smoke can be hazardous to your health.
The bottom line,
Burning sage has many benefits as a spiritual practice. Some research supports certain health benefits of sage, such as antimicrobial properties and enhanced alertness, but more research is needed.
There is very little research on smudging as a practice beyond the cultural practice of the ritual.
Keep in mind: Burning sage is a sacred religious practice in some Native American cultures. Treat the ritual with respect.